BREAKING NEWS: 

ALBERTA TO MOVE INTO STAGE 2 ON JUNE 12

See story below under Alberta section

CURRENT SITUATION UPDATE – JUNE 2-9, 2020

I have combined information from press conferences, news releases and other sources since the last Update. Anything in green is an update on something from the last one I sent out or on an outbreak. Anything bracketed in [bold and italic]s are my comments. 

If you would like to see anything that I sent out previously, or have a question on a particular topic, please ask me and I will be pleased to send to you whatever I have. 

If anyone has anything helpful to add, please send it to me and I will include it.

Linda

  • New Info on COVID-19   NEW
  • Potential Treatments 
  • Around the World
  • Canada
  • Other Provinces
  • Alberta
  • Good News Stories

NEW INFO ON COVID-19 

Coronavirus May Be a Blood Disease

          Several recently published articles seek to explain the unusual symptoms experienced by some people who contract COVID-19. Initially, the infection attacked the lungs and caused pneumonia in severe cases, pneumonia that wasn’t always helped  by being on a ventilator. Then other symptoms started appearing: blood clots, strokes, “COVID toes” and heart inflammation, as well as kidney damage and other organ effects.

          What all these conditions have in common is an impairment in blood circulation. 40% of the deaths are related to cardiovascular complications. There is now a growing body of evidence to support the theory that coronavirus can infect blood vessels, which could explain the diversity of symptoms. 

          Mandeep Mehra, MD medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular  Center says “If you start to put all of the data together that is emerging, it turns out that this virus is probably a vasculotropic virus, meaning that it affects the [blood vessels].

          In a paper published in The Lancet, Mehra and a team of scientists discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can affect the endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. Endothelial cells protect the cardiovascular system an release proteins that influence everything from blood clotting to the immune response. In the paper, scientists showed damage to endothelial cells in the lungs heart, kidneys, liver and intestines in people with COVID-19.

          “The concept that’s emerging is that this is not a respiratory illness alone, this is a respiratory illness to start with, but it is actually a vascular illness that kills people through its involvement of the vasculature,” says Mehra. 

          The virus is thought to enter the body through ACE2 receptors present on the surface of cells in the respiratory tract. Once in the lungs, the virus moves the air sacs of the lungs, and then into the blood vessels which are also rich in ACE2 receptors. 

            Benhur Lee, MD, professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says that the difference between the sister virus SARS and SARS-CoV-2 is in the extra protein each virus requires to active and spread its genetic material. The extra protein in SARS is present only in lung tissue, but the extra protein needed by SARS-CoV-2 called furin is present in all cells, especially endothelial cells.

          An infection of the blood vessels would explain many of the unusual symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Endothelial cells help regulate blood clots, and inhibit blood clot formation. “If that’s disrupted,” says Sanjum Sethi, MD, MPH, an interventional cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, “that could potentially promote clot formation.”

          Endothelial damage causes inflammation in the blood vessels and can cause any plaque that’s accumulated to rupture, causing a heart attack. Blood vessel damage could also explain why people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease are at higher risk for severe complications from the coronavirus. All of these diseases cause endothelial cell dysfunction, and the additional damage and inflammation caused by the infection could cause serious problems. 

          This theory could also explain why ventilators don’t help some people. Ventilators move air into the lungs, but the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood is just as important to provide the rest of the body with oxygen, and that process relies on functioning blood vessels in the lungs. 

          In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-author William Li, MD, president of the Angiogenesis Foundation, found widespread evidence of blood clots and infection in the endothelial cells of the lungs of people who died from COVID-19. 

          “Endothelial cells connect the entire circulation system,” says Li. This could explain how the virus travels through the body and infects other organs. 

          The good news is that if COVID-19 is a vascular disease, there are existing drugs that can help protect against endothelial disease. In another new England Journal of Medicine paper that looked at nearly 9,000 people with COVID-19, Mehra showed that the use of statins and ACE inhibitors were linked to higher rates of survival. 

          “It turns out that both statins and ACE inhibitors are extremely protective on vascular dysfunction,” Mehra says. “The mechanism by which they protect the cardiovascular system starts with their ability to stabilize the endothelial cells.”

          She continues “What we’re saying is that maybe the best antiviral therapy is not actually an antiviral therapy. The best therapy might actually be a drug that stabilizes the vascular endothelial. We are building a drastically different concept.”

POTENTIAL TREATMENTS/TESTS

Saliva-Based Test being Developed in Ontario

                   An Ontario company is developing a new saliva-based COVID-19 test that could fit in the palm of a hand and provide results in 20 minutes. 

          Deep Biologics, in Guelph, was awarded $300,000 to develop this test. The current test takes several days, and requires a long swab from the throat or nasal passages. 

          The National Resource Council of Canada has invested nearly $1.2 million into Deep Biologics and three other companies developing similar tests. If successful, they could receive up to $2 million each to develop prototypes. 

Avifavir (Favipiravir)

          Russia has fast-tracked approval of anti-influenza drug Avifavir to treat COVID-19. There are claims of shortened recovery times amid a spike of cases in Russia.

          Clinical trials in several Russian hospitals will start on June 11 with up to 330 COVID-19 patients.

          At least 14 trials are being conducted around the world, including Japan, China, US, Italy, and India.

          Russia’s Ministry of Health approved Avifavir for emergency use after “encouraging” results from other clinical trials. 

          The drug is based on Favipiravir and was developed in Japan by Japan’s Fujifilm Pharmaceuticals where it was approved in 2014 as an antiviral medication for influenza, under the name Avigan. 

          Favipiravir is a pyrazinecarboxamide derivative. It works by blocking the ability of a virus to replicate inside a cell. 

          In Japan, the drug’s efficacy will be tested on a group of 100 patients through the end of June. The drug will be administered for up to 14 days to patients between 20 and 74 with mild pneumonia. Trials will be looking at factors such as: effects on fever, cough, oxygenation, recovery time and time spent in hospital, as well as how quickly the virus clears the system, along with X-rays or CT scans for pneumonia. A significant reduction in clinical outcome could lead to larger-scale trials. 

          There are some safety concerns, such as fetal development so it is not advised in pregnancy, and some doctors say they would not recommend it for children or adolescents. 

          The clinical trials in Russia have so far shown “high efficacy.”

Hydroxychloroquine

          After questions were raised about hydroxychloroquine’s safety in a paper published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, the paper has been discredited. 

          The World Health Organization will resume its trial of hydroxychloroquine and trials around the world are resuming. 

Does Zinc Boost Immune System?

          Zinc is an essential mineral for the body which uses it for a wide range of roles, including wound healing, protein synthesis and ensuring a fully functioning immune system. 

          A 2017 meta-analysis published in the journal JRSM Open, looked  at intervention studies where scientists gave given zinc lozenges to people exposed to the common cold. The lozenges contained zinc acetate or zinc glutonate and the studies showed that taking zinc had an effect. 

          In 3 trials where people were given zinc acetate or a placebo, the zinc acetate shortened the duration of a cold by 40%. In 4 trials were people received zinc gluconate or a placebo, the zinc gluconate reduced the cold duration by 28%.

          Zinc helps white cells like monocytes bind to infected cells and destroy them. If you are zinc-deficient there is also a decrease in the activity of white cells called natural killer cells. Zinc deficiency is common in older age groups. Zinc also suppresses the formation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the sort that can lead to a ‘cytokine storm’ which is when the immune system overreacts and attacks healthy cells. A cytokine storm seems to be what causes death in many older people who get COVID-19. 

You can get zinc naturally from eating shellfish, fish and meat. It is also found in nuts, seeds and legumes, but in a less absorbable form.  

–WORLD NEWS–

Anti-Racism Protests 

            There have been widespread demonstrations throughout the world for anti-racism, mostly anti-black racism, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  Almost every city in the US, and major cities in other countries have had protests. Canadian cities have been no exception. Most of these demonstrations have been peaceful, however, there have been numerous incidents of violence within these demonstrations, mostly in US cities. Many authorities have stated that the violence was mainly caused by other people and groups taking advantage of the protests as a cover to destroy property, smash storefronts and loot the stores. Some of the damage was done by people in the demonstrations, including torching and damaging buildings, vehicles, and other property. 

            Many have spoken out against the violence, including black business owners whose properties have been damaged, and livelihoods destroyed. Canada has not been immune to this. Montreal saw a lot of the same kind of violence. Toronto shopkeepers boarded up their stores to protect them. In the US, the National Guard was called out to many states to protect property. There were also numerous injuries and some additional deaths, both of demonstrators and police. In some cases, the demonstrators charged police lines, and people on both sides were injured. In other cases, police were rough and attacked demonstrators without reason. In Toronto, a 75-year-old man was pushed to the ground by a police officer with such force that he suffered head injuries and was left to lie in his own blood while the officer who pushed him, as well as a number of other offices, just walked by and ignored him. The incident was caught on video and went viral. There was clearly no provocation and no reason to push the man. Fortunately, he did get to hospital and is in hospital with serious head injuries. Two officers were suspended; I haven’t heard about any charges yet. 

            The officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes has had the charges upgraded to 2nd degree murder. The other 3 officers that were there were also charged with aiding and abetting murder. Chauvin has had numerous complaints of excessive violence against him previously, as does one of the other officers. The remaining two were rookie cops who hadn’t even finished their first week on the job. They can be heard on video trying to get Chauvin to stop. There were also bystanders calling for him to get off Floyd.

            There have been calls for totally revamping police forces, or defunding them. Minneapolis council voted to defund their police, although the mayor is resisting that stating that there needs to be means to protect the city while change is happening. 

            There have been several incidents raised in other locations that are now either coming to light, or having more attention paid to them. In northern Alberta, an indigenous chief has accused an officer of assaulting him and his wife during a traffic stop. Two Alberta RCMP officers have been charged with murdering a man in 2018 who had been the victim in an assault and who had escaped his assailant. In BC charges have been laid against five Prince George RCMP officers in the 2017 death of an indigenous man. 

China 

Hong Kong

             China passed the restrictive laws against democracy and took away much of Hong Kong’s autonomy. Protests have been made by other nations including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and US. 

            Parliamentarians in Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand are urging creation of a UN special envoy for Hong Kong to monitor the former British colony. 

            Pro-democracy protestors In Hong Kong are ignoring Chinese restrictions and continuing to protest China’s actions. 

Huawei

            While Prime Minister Trudeau held off making a decision about Huawei’s participation in Canada’s 5G network, the decision has been made for him. The three major telecommunications players in Canada – Bell, Rogers & Telus – have signed agreements with Erikson to supply most of the technology, as well as with Nokia. 

            CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, as well as Canada’s partners, including the US, have been urging Ottawa NOT to go with Huawei because of concerns about security and possibly spyware. 

Chinese Officials Delayed Releasing Coronavirus Information

            Chinese officials deliberately delayed releasing essential coronavirus information to WHO and the world.  Multiple Chinese labs fully decoded the coronavirus genome, and sat on it for over a week, not releasing the details necessary to designing tests, drugs and vaccines. 

            Health officials only released the genome after a Chinese lab published ahead of authorities on a virology website on January 11. Even then, China stalled for at least 2 more weeks before giving WHO the details needed. The outbreak might have been dramatically slowed had this information been released when it was first known, costing the world valuable time. 

            Although international law requires countries to report information to the WHO that could impact public health, the UN agency has no enforcement powers, and must rely on the cooperation of member states. 

            According to Chinese Center for Disease Control an Prevention data, the virus grew by a factor of 100 to 200 times in the time period between the first decoding on January 2 to the time the WHO declared a pandemic on January 30.  

After the genome was decoded on January 2, China’s to medical authority, the National Health Commission, issued a confidential notice forbidding labs from publishing bout the virus without authority. The order barred the Wuhan lab from publishing the sequence or warning of the possible danger. After the virus was sequenced by 3 other labs and the National Health Commission had been warned it was infectious, the Chinese CDC raised its emergency level but did not have the authority to alert the public.  China was not sharing any of this information with the WHO. 

On January 11, one of the labs published the coronavirus sequence on a virology website, at which time the other labs rushed to publish their sequences on January 12. Chinese authorities finally issued a warning on January 20 and WHO dispatched a small team to Wuhan. Even though the Chinese were “talking openly … about human-to-human transmission,” WHO’s emergency committee decide against recommending an emergency.  WHO’s director-general Tedros visited Beijing, after which the WHO finally declared a global emergency on January 30. 

World wide  7,323,761 cases; 413,731 deaths;  3,603,893 recoveries

Just to keep this in perspective: 

  • flu affects 1 billion people and causes 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
  • The Spanish flu affected 1/3 of the people in the world at the time and killed between 50-100 million people. 

Around the World 

COVID-19 affects 213 countries and territories around the world. 

Brazil

  • Brazil now has 742,084 cases and 38,497 deaths,  325,602 have recovered.. 
  • Brazil is the 2nd highest in the world, behind only the US. It is now 3rd in total deaths, behind the US and UK, but these are likely still underreported. 

Britain

  • Britain now has 289,1402 cases and 40,883 deaths. There is no information on recoveries.
  • UK has now just edged out Spain in number of cases (less than 100 more) to become the 4th highest in cases. It is still the 2nd highest in total deaths, although Brazil is rapidly catching up as Britain’s numbers slow. 
  • UK has the 2nd highest deaths per million people – 602 per million, behind only Belgium with 823 per million.
  • Some people are still ignoring distancing provisions and crowded beaches and parks while police struggle to cope with the numbers. 
  • Authorities have stressed the need to keep physical distancing and wearing masks. 

Chile

  • Chile’s cases are increasing, as are many other South American nations. 
  • Chile is now reporting 142,759 cases, but so far the death toll is low at still low at 2,283, although that has doubled in the last week. 95,631 have recovered – also doubled in the last week. 
  • Chile is 13th highest in cases in the world. 

France

  • France has 154,591 cases and 29,296 deaths, 71,506 people have recovered.
  • France has dropped to 12th in overall cases, but remains 5th in total deaths. It has slipped to 6th in deaths per million – 449 per million

Germany

  • Germany has 186,516 cases with 8,831 deaths, 170,200 people have recovered. 
  • Germany is still 9th in overall cases, but its death toll is much lower than other countries with high case numbers.

India

  • India now has 276,146 cases and 7,750 total deaths, with 134,670 recoveries.
  • India has moved up to 6th in overall cases. 

Italy

  • Italy is now reporting 235,561 cases and 34,043 deaths, 168,646 people have recovered.
  • Italy is 7th in overall case numbers, but has slipped to 4th in total deaths, as Brazil’s numbers increase.  
  • Italy still has the 4rd highest deaths per million people – 563 per million, behind Belgium, UK and Spain.

Iran

  • Iran’s cases are still increasing. It now has 175,591 cases, and 8,425 deaths; 138,457 have recovered.
  • Iran has moved up to 10th in number of cases. 

Mexico

  • Mexico is experiencing continued increase in cases. They are now reporting 124,301 cases (an increase of 4,199 today), with 14,649 deaths; 90,748 have recovered.
  • Mexico is now in the No 14 spot. 

Netherlands

  • The Netherlands is reporting 47,903 cases and 6,031 deaths. There is no current information on recoveries. 
  • The Netherlands is 24th in overall cases, but 7th in deaths per million population, behind Belgium, UK, Spain, Italy, Sweden, and France.

Peru

  • Peru’s number of cases is increasing considerably. It is up to 203,736 cases, and 5,738 deaths; 92,929 have recovered.
  • The number of cases is due to Its proximity to Brazil which is South America’s hotspot.
  • It has now risen to 8th highest cases in the world. 

Russia

  • Russia’s cases continue to climb but it remains third in cases behind only the US and Brazil. Russia has 485,253 cases, 6,142 deaths and 242,397 are reported as recovered.

Spain

  • Spain is reporting 289,046 cases and 27,136 deaths, There is no current information on recoveries; the last reported number was 196,958.
  • Spain has now slipped to 5th highest in cases behind the US, Brazil and Russia, and UK which edged it out by less than 100, and 6th in deaths behind US, UK, Italy, Brazil, and France.
  • Spain has also dropped to the 3rd  highest in deaths per million population – still 580 per million people, behind Belgium and UK. 

Sweden

  • Sweden now has 45,924 cases and 4,717 deaths. There is no current information on recoveries.
  • Sweden is in the 25th position in overall cases, and quite far down the list in overall death toll. It ranks  5th in deaths per million population, behind Belgium, UK, Spain and Italy. 
  • Sweden is still hoping for herd immunity, but now that more is known about the virus and who is most vulnerable, would have protected its seniors more. 

Turkey

  • Turkey is reporting 172,114, and 4,729 deaths; 144,598 have recovered.
  • Turkey remains as the 11th highest in number of cases. 

United States

  • The US now has 2,045,549 cases and 114,148 deaths, 788,852 have recovered.
  • US deaths are 345 per million people, 8th behind Belgium, UK, Spain, Italy, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands, edging Ireland out by 2 deaths per million.
  • With all the large demonstrations going on around the US, there is a lot of concern that cases may surge.  

Canada  

Canada has dropped from 13th highest in cases in the world to 17th.   

  • Confirmed cases         96,653
  • Deaths                          7,897
  • Recoveries                  55,572
  • No. of Tests:          1,955,719

Areas in Canada with cases of COVID-19 as of JUNE 9, 5:00 pm MDT

  • Province, territory or other                    Confirmed          Deaths     Recovered
  • British Columbia                                        2,669                167          2,181
  • Alberta                                                       7,229                151          6,245
  • Saskatchewan                                              656                  13           5680
  • Manitoba                                                      300                    7             278
  • Ontario                                                     31,090             2,464         21,810
  • Quebec                                                  53,185         5,029         16,070
  • New Brunswick                                            147                    1             120
  • Nova Scotia                                             1,060                  62             978
  • Prince Edward Island                                  27                    0               27
  • Newfoundland and Labrador                      261                   3             255
  • Yukon                                                              11                    0               11
  • Northwest Territories                                      5                    0                 5
  • Nunavut                                                            0                    0                 0
  • Repatriated travellers                                  13                    0    Unknown

Up-to-date information is available at Canada.ca/COVID-19

–Canadian News –

–Prime Minister Trudeau Announcements—

Ottawa to go after CERB Fraudsters

          After telling Canada Revenue Agency to ignore any possibility of fraud and get out money in for the CERB, Trudeau is now promising to go after fraudsters and provide serious penalties including possible jail time.  

US-Canada Border to Remain Closed

          The Canada-US Border will now remain closed to the end of July. The Prime Minister is saying Ottawa will try to do something to reunite families who are on both sides of the border. 

–OTHER CANADIAN NEWS—

Provinces: I will update this next time. 

Alberta

JUNE 2-8, 2020, 5:15 p.m.

–ALBERTA NEWS –

There have been a number of announcements over the last several days. Some are here, others will be in upcoming updates. 

–Premier Jason Kenney–

Stage 2 Announcement

          Friday, June 12 – Stage 2 of Relaunch

Several activities planned for Stage 3 will be brought back into Stage 2. 

To move into stage 2, we needed to hit 3 public health triggers – 

  1. hospitalizations – decrease or no more than 5% increase over 2 consecutive weeks – they have actually been going down. 
  2. ICU – less than ½ the beds occupied – we have 5
  3. Decrease in active cases – this has occurred, particularly in Calgary and Brooks

We will continue to monitor cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. We will also be releasing enhanced strategy to protect most vulnerable – elderly and those with existing conditions. And we will continue to monitor new case and trace contacts. 

          Testing now available for all Albertans, and encourage everyone to download the ABTraceTogether App to enable AHS to act more quickly to tackle local outbreaks. 

          Strong testing data shows active COVID-19 cases in Alberta are lower than expected, meaning stage two of the relaunch strategy can safely begin on June 12, a week sooner than expected.  

“Albertans have demonstrated the care and common sense needed to move forward with our relaunch earlier than initially planned. Our data tells us our active cases are low, hospitalizations are trending downward and people are taking action to protect those most vulnerable and prevent the spread of the virus. We will continue to move forward together to overcome any tough times ahead, but responsible Albertans should be proud of the vigilance they have shown to date.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

Current data from June 8 show only 355 active cases and 44 people in hospital across Alberta. This is a decrease of almost 70 per cent in active cases since May 14 – when the province began stage one of the Alberta Relaunch Strategy. With its robust approach to testing, Alberta has performed more COVID-19 tests per capita than most other jurisdictions in the world.

As the province enters stage two of relaunch, safety remains the top priority. More businesses, sport and recreation services can open if they are ready. Some larger gatherings for seated audience events will be permitted. In all cases, public health guidance must be followed.

A new interactive map will help Albertans understand the level of risk in their community and learn about any enhanced health measures at the local level, giving additional information on what they need to do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and protected. Currently, no communities in Alberta need locally targeted enhanced measures.

What can open with restrictions

  • K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance
  • Libraries
  • More surgeries
  • Wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology
  • Personal services (esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment, artificial tanning)
  • Indoor recreation, fitness, and sports, including gyms and arenas
  • Movie theatres and theatres
  • Community halls
  • Team sports
  • Pools for leisure swimming
  • VLTs in restaurants and bars
  • Casinos and bingo halls (but not table games)
  • Instrumental concerts 

The 50 per cent capacity limit for provincial campgrounds is also being lifted. Over the coming days, the online reservation system will be updated and sites will come online in phases. By July 1, all camping sites will be open for reservations. First-come, first-served sites may open sooner. Information on additional sites will be added to alberta.parks.ca when they become available.

Events and gatherings can be larger in stage two

Maximum 50 people:

  • Indoor social gatherings – including wedding and funeral receptions, and birthday parties

Maximum 100 people:

  • Outdoor events and indoor seated/audience events – including wedding and funeral ceremonies

No cap on the number of people (with public health measures and physical distancing in place):

  • Worship gatherings
  • Restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls

There is more flexibility for ‘cohort’ groups – small groups of people whose members do not always keep two metres apart:

  • A household can increase its close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people
  • Performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers)
  • Sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players (mini leagues)
  • People could be part of a sports/performing and household cohort

Everyone is encouraged to follow public health guidelines and notify others in the cohort(s) if they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. If they do test positive or have symptoms, mandatory isolation is required.

Still not approved in stage two

  • Social gatherings that exceed above listed maximums
  • Regular in-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12. Classes will resume September 2020
  • Vocal concerts (as singing carries a higher risk of transmission)
  • Major festivals and concerts, large conferences, trade shows and events (as these are non-seated social events and/or vocal concerts)
  • Nightclubs
  • Amusement parks
  • Hookah lounges (permitted for food and drink only)
  • Major sporting events and tournaments
  • Non-essential travel outside the province is not recommended. This recommendation will not be lifted until stage three of the relaunch strategy.

The success of stage two will determine when Alberta progresses to stage three. Factors are active cases, health-care system capacity, hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) cases, and infection rates. For more information, visit alberta.ca/RelaunchStrategy.

Sector specific guidelines will be on Alberta Biz Connect

Border Controls

Monitoring of people arriving from outside country will continue indefinitely and quarantine requirement will still be in place. 

–Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw–

“More Albertans can now return to work and to the activities so many of us enjoy. However, I encourage you to do it safely. Think of the people in your life who may be at high risk from COVID-19 and protect all those around you as you would want your loved ones protected. Stay home if you are sick. Stay two metres apart and wear a non-medical mask if you can’t. Consider downloading the ABTraceTogether app, and wash your hands often.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health

Performers can interact with up to 50 other cast members

Sports – region only cohorts – up to 50 players

–OTHER ALBERTA NEWS FROM JUNE 2-8–

–Health Minister Tyler Shandro and MLA Jeremy Nixon – Calgary-Klein–

Vaping Restrictions Introduced

Bill 19, the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act, follows a review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act led by MLA Jeremy Nixon in response to the increase in vaping, smoking and tobacco use in Alberta. The review engaged almost 10,000 Albertans.

The review resulted in valuable recommendations to address the alarming rise in vaping among young Albertans. Currently, Alberta is the only province without vaping legislation. 

Evidence shows that vaping has immediate and long-term health risks, such as lung damage, nicotine poisoning and addiction. Albertans who smoke or vape also appear to be at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19.

The proposed act specifically addresses youth vaping, and would add enforceable restrictions on the possession, promotion, display, sale and use of these products, in alignment with tobacco laws. It would also include the expansion of smoke and vape-free areas, especially at places frequented by children and youth.

Along with individual harms, health costs for Alberta as a result of the use of tobacco products are estimated at $6 billion over the next four years.

Summary of proposed legislation

  • Minimum age for purchasing, possessing or using vaping products would align with tobacco products (18 years and older).
  • In convenience stores and gas stations, vaping displays, advertisements and promotion would need to align with tobacco restrictions.
  • Aligning places where vaping and tobacco products can not be used will reduce confusion for the public and law enforcement. New places where vaping and smoking will not be allowed include: 
    • on hospital, school or child care properties
    • on playgrounds, sports or playing fields, skateboard or bicycle parks, public outdoor pools or splash pads, zoos and outdoor theatres
  • Restrictions on the locations of vaping product sales will align with tobacco restrictions, and include: 
    • health facilities
    • public post-secondary institutions
    • stores where pharmacies are located
    • vending machines or temporary facilities
  • Alberta’s proposed legislation will establish the authority to consider restrictions on flavoured vape if it is not covered by potential federal legislation.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act review was led by MLA Jeremy Nixon from Oct. 25 to Dec 4. 
    • About 250 people participated in 41 consultation sessions across Alberta, including health experts, municipalities, educators, enforcement, youth, businesses and industry.
    • More than 9,500 individuals responded to an online survey.
    • The review findings are summarized in a report.
  • Teen vaping rates (used in past 30 days) surged from eight per cent in 2014-15 to 22 per cent in 2016-17 and to 30 per cent in 2018-19 (Grades 10-12).
  • Recent vape-related lung illness and deaths in the U.S. and Canada highlight that other health impacts of vaping are yet to be determined.
  • Addiction to tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and death in Alberta and yet the prevalence of smoking in Alberta is second highest in Canada.
  • In 2018-19, 15.6 per cent of Albertans aged 18 or older indicated they smoked cigarettes daily or occasionally.
    For more information:

–Premier Jason Kenney, Doug Schweitzer, Justice Minister, Michaela Glasgo, MLA- Brooks-Medicine Hat– Protecting Law-Abiding Alberta Gun Owners

Alberta will listen to law-abiding firearms owners while further cracking down on criminals who wilfully put Albertans’ lives at risk.

The Government of Alberta is establishing the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on how Alberta can better assert areas of provincial jurisdiction while respecting law-abiding Albertans’ long history of responsible firearms ownership.  

To further improve firearms governance in Alberta and crack down on their illegal use, the government is also establishing a provincial firearms examination unit to speed up testing of guns that have been seized as evidence in criminal investigations.

“The federal government has introduced hasty and ill-thought-out measures that penalize law-abiding gun owners while doing little to stop criminals who traffic or use illegal firearms. The vast sums of money Ottawa will spend would be far better used to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society. In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“While Ottawa spends hundreds of millions of dollars targeting law-abiding gun owners, our government is investing in a firearms examination unit to conduct criminal firearms testing so prosecutions are not put in jeopardy by lengthy delays. The measures we are taking today will show Ottawa that a responsible firearms policy targets criminals and illegal gun traffickers and not lawful gun use.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee

The Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee will be chaired by Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat, and will have representation from groups that speak for a wide range of lawful gun owners, including farmers and ranchers, hunters and trappers, and shooting sports enthusiasts.

The committee will give Albertans the opportunity to voice their concerns over the federal government’s firearms legislation and provide recommendations on how provincial policies can best target criminals while respecting law-abiding gun owners.

“We need firearms policies that recognize and support the ability of Albertans to own and possess firearms in a lawful and responsible manner. I am pleased to chair the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee to ensure our government develops policies that reflect the values of Albertans.”

Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat

“Community safety is a vital concern for all Albertans. It is critically important to protect our communities from the crime and violence associated with the unlawful possession and use of firearms while at the same time protecting the lawful rights of hunters and responsible gun owners.”

Rick Hanson, committee member and former chief, Calgary Police Service

Advisory committee members:

  • Michaela Glasgo, chair, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat
  • Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace-Notley
  • Shane Getson, MLA for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland
  • Rick Hanson, former chief, Calgary Police Service
  • Teri Bryant, associate professor, University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business
  • Bob Gruszecki, president, Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association
  • Phil Harnois, gun shop owner (P & D Enterprises) and 25-year Edmonton police veteran
  • Gail Garrett, vice-president, Alberta Federation of Shooting Sports
  • Lynda Kiejko, member of 2016 Canadian Olympic shooting team
  • Andrew Blundell, vice-president, Canadian Historical Arms Society/Genesee Range
  • Linley Coward, co-owner, Bullets and Broadheads Range in Grande Prairie
  • Nicholas Lui, competitive shooter and Canadian Armed Forces veteran

Alberta Firearms Examination Unit

A legal requirement for prosecuting gun crimes involves proving that a seized weapon meets the Criminal Code definition of a firearm by having a barrel and the ability to fire a projectile capable of causing serious injury or death.

While the Calgary Police Service (CPS) carries out this testing in its own facility and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is establishing a lab of its own, most police services in Alberta rely on the RCMP’s National Forensic Laboratory Services in Ottawa to fulfil this requirement with a straightforward test-firing procedure.

In the fall of 2019, data indicated it was taking an average of eight months for the national RCMP laboratory to process a routine firearms testing request from Alberta.

To prevent lengthy court delays from putting the prosecution of violent criminals at risk, Alberta is ending its reliance on the federal laboratory by establishing a provincial unit to perform tests on firearms used in crimes.

Justice and Solicitor General is working on a plan with its partners at CPS, EPS, RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to establish a team and protocols for conducting firearms testing at the existing lab in Calgary and the forthcoming facility in Edmonton.

–Agriculture & Forestry Minister  Devin Dreeshen—

Helping Cereal Crop Growers

            Minister Dreeshen has signed a ministerial order removing Fusarium from the Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation so that Alberta can come in line with best practices from other provinces, and modernise the management of the disease. 

            Rather than zero tolerance to a disease that continues to spread despite current regulations, Alberta farmers will now be able to take advantage of modern advances in seed treatment options. 

            This is another reduction in red tape to allow Alberta farmers to find information and best management practices.  For more information: Alberta Fusarium graminearum Management Plan

–Nate Glubish, Minister of Service Alberta—

Real Estate Regulations Restructuring  

The Real estate Amendment Act 2020 will restructure and refocus the Real Estate Council of Alberta with a mandate on licensing and regulating Alberta’s real estate sector.  The proposed changes will restructure RECA to consist of a board of directors, as well as four new industry councils: residential real estate agents and brokers; commercial real estate agents and brokers, and commercial property managers; mortgage brokers; and residential property managers and condominium managers.

These new industry councils will be responsible for identifying and addressing emerging issues related to their parts of the real estate sector, setting standards and rules, and determining licensing requirements. The RECA board will be responsible for oversight of RECA’s strategic direction and staff, and help to facilitate coordination between the industry councils.

More information is available at: 

 –Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon –Additional Funding for Bragg Creek Flood Mitigation            An additional $9.4 million has been committed for flood mitigation in Bragg Creek to help ensure the community is protected against a 1-in-100 year flood, while supporting economic recovery with an expected 60 jobs during the construction phase.  –Health Minister Tyler Shandro–Virtual Physician Visits to Become PermanentAlberta Health has made the virtual health care which has been in use during COVID-19 permanent and will be in use ongoing. 

  • Permanent billing codes include patient visits, consultations, and mental health services provided over the phone or through secure video conference.
  • In-person physician and specialist care will continue. Virtual services will be offered by physicians and specialists where appropriate.
  • These permanent virtual codes will not be subject to the daily patient visit cap.

–Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw–

Visitors to Acute Care Centres

            Visitors to Acute Care Centres have been increased.  Up to 2 visitors are allowed per person for someone in hospital, and one person may accompany a person visiting an emergency room. Current guidelines are on Alberta Health Care’s website. 

Update on Outbreaks

Sofina Foods in Edmonton has an outbreak. It has 6 cases. All outbreak protocols  are in place and site-wide testing is being done. 

The Extendicare Hillcrest, Calgary, outbreak has now resulted in 89 total cases, including 20 deaths and 61 recoveries. This is now the biggest long-term care outbreak in Alberta. There are now only 8 active cases. 

There is a small spike in Edmonton related to small social events. One had 10, another had 8, and spread outwards from there. They are now isolating. Now have 92 active cases in Edmonton. 

Sports Practice Allowed

Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers now allowed to restart practices in their own arenas. 

Demonstrations

Encourage all who attended the anti-racist demonstrations to go for testing. Contact tracing will be extremely difficult from such a large group. Be extremely mindful of actions and contacts over next 14 days. 

Testing

Alberta has now done over 300,000 tests.  

Asymptomatic testing results will be updated weekly. Since May 12, asymptomatic tests on those with no known contact with anyone positive have totaled 14,853 tests, and only 6 have tested positive

Free non-medical masks

Starting today, Albertans can get four free non-medical masks per person at any Alberta A&W, McDonald’s Canada and Tim Hortons drive-thru while supplies last, no purchase necessary.

Masks are at drive-thrus only. Those who can’t get to a drive-thru can check out other options here.

Case Updates: New Cases over last few days

                            New           Hospitalized   ICU     Deaths

  • Tue, June 2        13               51        6          0          
  • Wed, June 3       19               48       6          2       woman in 90s-Extendicare Hillcrest woman in 80s Intercare Chinook
  • Thur., June 4   15                48        6          1      man in 80s –Extendicare Hillcrest
  • Fri., June 5        7                44        6          0      
  • Sat., June 6        40             44        6          0
  • No numbers  Sunday
  • Mon, June 8       64               44       6           3     all at Extendicare Hillcrest
  • Tue, June 9         27               46       6           2     1 at a long-term care facility

The total number of active cases is now 356.  6,722  people have recovered. There are currently 46 people hospitalized, with 6 in intensive care.  Out of 11,225 new tests, there are 64 new cases. There were 3 deaths since Saturday as noted above, bringing the total to 149 deaths.

Latest updates

  • 27 new cases have been reported, bringing the number of active cases to 356.  6,722 people have recovered.
  • Cases have been identified in all zones across the province: 
  • 210 active cases and 4,672 recovered cases in the Calgary zone
  • 18 active cases and 1,240 recovered cases in the South zone
  • 112 active cases and 498 recovered cases in the Edmonton zone
  • 15 active cases and 214 recovered cases in the North zone
  • 0 active cases and 86 recovered cases in the Central zone
  • 1 active cases and 12 recovered cases in zones yet to be confirmed
  • Additional information, including the total number of cases, is reported online.
  • There have been 577 cases to date with an unknown exposure.
  • The total deaths are 151: 111 in the Calgary zone; 16 in the North zone; 13 in the Edmonton zone; 9 in the South zone; and one in the Central zone.  
  • There are 29 active cases and 690 recovered cases at continuing care facilities. 116 residents at these facilities have died.
  • So far, 272,967 Albertans have been tested and labs have performed 303,689 tests, with 4,993  tests completed in the last 24 hours.
  • Any individual exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, is eligible for testing. People can access testing by completing the COVID-19 self-assessment online. A separate self-assessment tool is available for health-care and shelter workers, enforcement and first responders. 
  • Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographic areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.

 (Central zone and areas around Calgary includes:

  • Ponoka County – 3 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 3 recovered
  • City of Camrose – 2 cases, 0 active, 1 death, 1 recovered
  • County of Camrose – 1 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Red Deer – 37 cases; 1 active, 0 deaths, 36 recovered
  • City of Lacombe – 2 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 2 recovered
  • County of Lacombe – 3 cases; 0 active, 0 deaths; 3 recovered
  • County of Stettler – 2 cases, 0 active, 0 death; 2 recovered
  • Red Deer County – 15 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 15 recovered
  • Clearwater County – 2 cases; 0 active, 0 deaths; 2 recovered
  • Mountain View County – 9 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 9 recovered
  • Kneehill County – 4 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths; 4 recovered
  • MD of Bighorn – 18 cases; 0 active, 0 deaths; 18 recovered
  • MD of Rockyview – 44 cases; 3 active, 0 deaths; 41 recovered
  • Wheatland County – 10 cases; 1 active, 0 deaths; 9 recovered
  • ID No. 9 (Banff & Canmore) – 4 cases; 1 active, 0 deaths; 3 recovered
  • Foothills County – 726 cases, 22 active, 8 deaths; 696recovered
  • City of Airdrie – 52 cases, 3 active, 1 deaths, 48 recovered
  • City of Calgary – 4092 cases;  194 active, 102 deaths; 3796 recovered
  • City of Brooks – 1117 cases, 1 active, 9 deaths, 1107 recovered
  • County of Newell – 20 cases, 1 active, 0 deaths; 19 recovered
  • Special Areas No. 2 – 2 cases; 0 active, 1 death; 1 recovered

I am including smaller towns within counties, where I can get the information.  The total of each smaller town is also included in the country total. If there is a town I have not included that you would like to see, please let me know and I will see if I can get that info. Sometimes more than 1 town is lumped in together or not separated from the county figures – for example, Penhold, Blackfalds and the area around Red Deer is included in Red Deer County figures. 

  • Black Diamond – 29 cases, 3 active, 0 deaths, 26 recovered
  • Canmore – 22 cases, 3 active, 0 deaths, 19 recovered
  • Cochrane-Springbank – 17 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 17 recovered
  • Crossfield – 6 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 6 recovered
  • Chestermere – 30 cases, 1 active, 0 deaths, 29 recovered
  • Didsbury/Carstairs – 5 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 5 recovered
  • Drumheller – 2 cases, 2 active
  • High River – 533 cases, 2 active, 7 deaths, 524 recovered
  • Innisfail/Bowden – 1 case, 0 active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Okotoks – Priddis – 172 cases, 2 active, 1 deaths, 169 recovered
  • Olds – 3 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 3 recovered
  • Rocky Mountain House – 1 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Strathmore – 23 cases, 1 active, 0 deaths, 21 recovered
  • Sundre – 2 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 2 recovered
  • Sylvan Lake – 2 cases, 0 active; 0 deaths; 2 recovered
  • Three Hills / Highway 21 – 4 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 4 recovered

OUTBREAK SITES 

  • Outbreak = 2 or more cases which indicates community spread in the facility. Congregate sites are required to report even 1 possible case. Outbreak is declared over when 4 weeks have passed with no new cases. 
  • Long-term care and supported living facilities with COVID-19 cases:   I have included the information from the Alberta government website plus information from other sources. 
  • If a site is no longer on the list it is because there have been no new cases for four  weeks.
  • There are 29 active cases and 690 recovered cases at continuing care facilities. 116 residents at these facilities have died.
    • Academy of Aging, Calgary
    • AgeCare Sunrise Gardens, Brooks
    • Bow View Manor, Calgary – this site was declared outbreak free, then another case occurred in a staff member acquired outside of the facility. There are no cases in other staff members or residents. 
    • Carewest Sarcee, Calgary has 12 cases and 2 deaths. 
    • Chartwell Eau Claire Retirement Residences, Calgary
    • High River Long Term Care (in High River Hospital), High River
    • Hillcrest Extendicare, Calgary, 20 deaths
    • Intercare Brentwood, Calgary,
    • Intercare  Chinook Care Centre, Calgary
    • JB Wood Continuing Care, High Prairie, 4 deaths
    • Kensington Village – Shepherd’s Care, Edmonton – 37 cases – 29 have recovered, 4 deaths
    • McKenzie Towne Long Term Care, Calgary, 114 confirmed cases, 20 deaths. A new positive case was identified. 
    • Millrise Place, Calgary
    • Wentworth Manor, The Residence, Calgary
  • Other outbreak sites:
  • Amazon Distribution Centre, Balzac
  • APS Calgary
  • Calgary Alpha House 
  • Calgary Drop-in Rehab Centre Society, Calgary – 10 cases, 2 recovered
  • Calgary Refrigerated Warehouse, Calgary
  • Canada Post, Calgary
  • Cargill Meat Processing Plant, High River
  • Cascade Recovery+, Calgary, 14 cases
  • Co-op Macleod Trail, Calgary
  • Co-op Midtown, Calgary
  • ECCO Recycling and Energy Corporation, Calgary
  • Fibrebuilt Manufacturing, Calgary
  • Flyers force, Calgary
  • Golden Happiness Bakery
  • Harmony Beef – Meat packing, Rocky View County 
  • JBS Foods/Brooks  
  • McDonalds, Brooks
  • MCF Feedlots, Brooks
  • Purolator, Calgary – 59 employees, 5 have recovered so far
  • Terashita’s No Frills, Brooks
  • Thomas Fresh, Calgary
  • Walmart Logistics Distribution Warehouse, Calgary
  • West Coast Reduction Ltd, Calgary

Aggressive measures are being implemented in all outbreaks and they are affective.  AHS and Public Health has learned from the earlier outbreaks and is putting aggressive measures in place immediately an outbreak is identified. Exposures that happened before measures put in place can continue to happen for up to 2 weeks because of the long incubation period. 

ABTraceTogether app

  • The ABTraceTogether app will enhance current manual contact tracing and capacity, and facilitate early detection to help reduce the spread of the virus and better protect Albertans. It means Albertans will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.
  • Use of the app is voluntary; users must opt in.
  • The app does not track the user’s physical location and does not use GPS. Protecting privacy is paramount; all contact data is only on the user’s phone and is deleted after 21 days.  
  • Secure contact tracing is a cornerstone of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy. More information on the app, including links to download it, can be found online.
  • Since its launch, the app has attracted 201,733 registered users.

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